STMicroelectronics has introduced a new pressure sensor that allows mobile phones and other portable devices to calculate their vertical elevation relative to sea-level with very high accuracy. This means that the mobile device will know not only on which floor of a building it is located, but almost on which step of the staircase. Accurate location of mobile devices will be the key enabler for many emerging Location-Based Services (LBS), which are widely expected to be the next wave of killer applications in the mobile world. The challenge is to provide the means of identifying the location of the mobile device in three dimensions in a way that meets a variety of conflicting constraints including spatial resolution, reliability, physical size, robustness, and cost.
ST’s new pressure sensor can accurately measure air pressure from 260 millibars, which is the typical air pressure at a height of around 10 km (about 1,500 m higher than the summit of Mount Everest) to 1,260 millibars, which is the typical air pressure at 1,800 m below sea-level, about half the depth of the deepest mine ever dug. Housed in a tiny 3x3mm package and offering low voltage operation and ultra-low power consumption, the new device is ideal for use in smart phones, sports watches, and other portable equipment, as well as in weather stations and automotive and industrial applications. The LPS331AP has already been adopted for use in Samsung’s latest and most advanced smartphone.